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Expectations and Reality

June 9, 2019 1:03 p.m.

I don’t agree with a number of the points TPM Reader RS makes. But I think he hits on a key point on the mismatch between the expectations of at least engaged Democratic partisans and what they’ve seen since the midterm elections. The degree to which congressional Democrats really have it within their power to do more is another question. But the mismatch of expectations and reality is real and a pretty big issue …

We should devote more attention to the mismatch between expectations by those who voted for Democratic House candidates in 2018 and the slow walking approach of House Democrats since January. We think too much about how Trump feeds his base, and not enough on how his blocking of Congressional investigations has a side benefit for Republicans: demonstrating to Democratic voters that they are wasting their time turning out because his side is just plain stronger and tougher.

We would not be having the impeachment debate at such an intense level if the House majority had seen its role as picking up the thread of the Democratic mobilization and acted as a bridge to the presidential election. The last time this happened, right after Trump’s election, congressional Democrats were planning to “work with” Trump until the women’s marches put some energy into them. The equivalent of the protests is the call for impeachment. Democrats would not be facing such a big push for impeachment if they had treated the first half of 2019 as an urgent mission to get information by any legal means necessary.

Part of the problem is that the House committee chairs were not the reason the Democrats won the House. It was the new class of members many of whom are newbies and unlikely to drive the House agenda. The oldsters, used to their comfortable, slow ways, and thinking they have all the time in the world, are making the decisions about witnesses, subpoenas, contempt, and other actions. When they are blocked by the administration, they don’t have a plan 2 of seemingly unorthodox ways to get the information they need; they are used to deference. Long time House members really do have all the time in the world. But in our current crisis, speed kills, and the country doesn’t have all the time in the world before we are consumed by the presidential election. The House majority had a mission handed over by those who voted for them, and it would be sad indeed to send the message that “we tried, but hey the White House was just too tough. I guess the only choice is impeachment or give up.”

It’s not too late, but it’s getting late to squander the middle handoff of this relay race.

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